Immigration Reform Summer: In Birthplace of CA Prop 187, “Yes We Can!” Now Shouted in Korean and Spanish
When Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) was first elected to Congress more than two decades ago, his home county of Orange was a different place. The county was the bastion of the John Birch Society and of the Republican Party in the Golden State and the nation.
Back then, Orange County’s Latinos and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) totaled one-third of the population. Determined to keep the immigrant population from growing, nativists there were a driving force in the anti-immigrant movement with California’s Prop. 187, a statewide measure approved by voters in 1994 that would have denied undocumented immigrants access to health care, education and other critical services. A federal court threw it out for lacking constitutional muster, but many credit Proposition 187 for mobilizing Latino and Asian communities to engage and fight back, resulting in the power those communities wield today across the state.
Now, it is the new Americans and descendants of immigrants who are knocking on doors in Royce’s district and demanding a voice on immigration.
AAPI and Latino community members — backed by DREAMers and labor — went door-to-door asking people to call Royce and demand a House vote on immigration reform that would let 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country earn a path to citizenship over time and help keep families together.
“We just have one question. Congressman Ed Royce, are you listening?” said Dayne Lee of the Korean Resource Center, during a rally at Fullerton City Hall that preceded the canvassing.
Lee led the dozens gathered in chanting “Yes we can!” in Korean after chants of “Si se puede!” as trilingual signs called for immigration reform.
The AAPI and Latino populations are a majority in Orange County and in Royce’s congressional district, which extends from northern Orange County to parts of Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties. Royce now represents in Congress a population that is 28.5 percent Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders — including a large Korean-American community — and 32.6 percent Latino
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